One of the services that we provide through True North Academic Advising is career and life coaching. Kids often have a big idea of what they want in life but don’t have the experience get them there in an expedient and cost-effective way.
In addition to our Academic Advising, you might want to check out our Orienteering course. We use Cheri Frame’s Career Exploration Guide as the spine for this dynamic, interactive live on-line course!
Why does Career Exploration matter to high school students?
Career Exploration, as Cheri explains:
- Increases students awareness of career options
- Helps students see how they fit into the working world
- Encourages students to plan high school courses based on their future goals
- Improves academic performances
- Saves time and money by pursuing a defined goal
- Introduces students to employment skills valued by all employers
The Career Exploration and preparation course guide consists of 2 parts.
Career Exploration & Prep Course Part 1:
This section is designed to allow the student to get to know themselves better and gain a clearer understanding of their vocational interests. This section also helps the student confirm their interests through various activities.
Part 1 Overview – Career Exploration: Choosing a Best Fit
- Keys to your future
- Your Vocational Profiles
- Occupational Profiles
- Informational Interviews
- Final Review
Part 1 is designed to be used in homeschools or co-op settings. Cheri includes many web-links and resources right at the beginning of the guide to get you started on the road to understanding your student. Some examples include Learning Styles, Motivation Triggers, Grit Scales, Business Essentials, to name a few.
Career Exploration & Prep Course Part 2:
In part 2, students are guided through a capstone project in their career area of interest. This section will allow students to define and hone skills relevant to the career areas that they have selected in Section 1.
Part 2 Overview – Career Preparation: Skill Smart
- Capstone Projects
- Skill Smart
- Professional Portfolio
Students are also encouraged to read a biography of their choice as well as “Start Here” and “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
The Guide consists of reading, assignments, and projects. Students should plan on 3-4 hours per week to complete the lessons, reading, and longer-term projects. Students should prepare to partner with their parents or a cohort, such as our Orienteering course will provide, to make the most of this course.
So what do I love about this program?
I love how this program starts off right by encouraging students to seek and find a team of mature mentors that they can learn and grow from. It is an excellent exercise in seeking out Godly leaders who can speak into their lives.
Additionally, there is a fantastic Bible Study right out of the shoot that sets up the Biblical basis for work. Conscientious, hard workers are in high demand these days. Cheri guides the kids through a Bible study on this and lays such an excellent foundation for the joy, responsibility, and God-given inspiration for work. Directly following, there is a study on family and cultural expectations. This facet is an oft-overlooked section of most career exploration programs. As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I love the fact that students look at the careers and vocations that are part of their family. We are often more influenced by family members and legacies than we realize.
A Cost of Living Project is also included. An excellent project that every high schooler should complete before their graduation from high school!
All of this before the student begins a Vocational Profile, which includes Personality Inventories, Occupational Profiles and Evaluation, Credentialing Evaluation, and Job Shadowing. This Vocational Profile is a thorough and detailed overview of career exploration for each student based on their personality and interests.
Part II will focus on students building their skills and showcasing them in a way that will take them into the beginning stages of developing their professionalism.
The Capstone project includes critical thinking, public speaking, research skills, self-sufficiency, team-work, planning, media literacy, planning, and goal setting. Students will learn and understand the difference between hard and soft skills. As a podcast host, focusing on Soft Skills, this makes me happy. The Capstone project asks the student to create a quality program or experience for themselves that will develop their professional self and ability. SMART Goals, resumes, and interviewing skills are covered.
Career Exploration and Prep is an excellent course for young adults of all ages. The target ages are 16 and up, but the resource is acceptable for motivated younger students as well. I would recommend this Guide for families and co-op situation.
A great addition to our Academic Advising Program, and integral to our Orienteering Course offered this fall and taught by Lisa Nehring.
Life-Planning During High School
Life-Planning During High School; the hardest part of this process is getting started. Respecting your teen’s input and independence is crucial. In the end, they will be responsible for their life, but we can resource and equip them for the journey. Creating an overall 4-year plan for high school is a great way to start. Of course, expect twists and turns along the way, but having a clear path, to begin with, will give you a simple guide that can be easily modified.
When talking about your child’s future, it’s very easy to share your own career story. It’s also easy to over plan for your child without letting them give input into their hopes and goals after graduation. On the other hand, a teen’s “I don’t know what I’m doing next” is a cry for structuring in the decision process. How do you give them this balance of independence and structure?
With your kids, come up with a list of things your student loves to do or study. Don’t edit as you brainstorm that defeats the purpose of brainstorming. The sky is the limit. The power and purpose of brainstorming is not to be practical; it’s to generate ideas.
Use a graphic organizer or a mind map, if that will be helpful to you. Get a big whiteboard and add to it over several days.
What are some great sources for brainstorming?
- What are your child’s favorite books, movies, and TV series? Many young kids are discovering interests based on T.V. shows. NCIS has generated an entire group of students fascinated by Forensic Science.
- What does your student do in their free time? My history loving, botany loving gardener, has been thinking about paleoethnobotany since our visit to Mt. Vernon.
- Youtube is an excellent source of recorded interviews of professionals explaining their careers and talking about how they got where they are at today. Check out our friend Alex Steele for inspiration on many levels.
- Research careers on the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Occupational Outlook Handbook. These websites allow you to look up specific job titles or find different jobs within a field and see how much education level, salary, career growth.
Do you have Career goals for your high-schooler?
- Take steps to help your high-schooler find a post-graduation plan: are they work, vo-tech or college/ university-bound, military, marriage, or entrepreneurs?
- Brainstorm and make a game of researching options
- Explore job -shadowing and volunteering. Kids may discover areas of interest they didn’t even know existed. They may also find that they dislike certain things. A friend of ours was totally sold on Forensic Science as a Career until they job shadowed at a Mortuary.
- Research Clubs, Activities, Camps in areas of interest to build skills and explore jobs.
- Think about Test Prep. Test scores can make or break scholarship and career opportunities.
Need more great tips on life planning for your home-school high school student? Our Orienteering Course
is specifically designed to help students take ownership for high school and beyond! Check out our other career planning posts
Why do you need homeschool academic advising?
As homeschooling parents, we are called upon to choose curriculum, teach the kids, keep track of credits and graduation requirements and guide our kids to a successful launch. We are the school board, administration, academic advisor and teacher, all rolled into one.
It can be difficult to do all of that on one’s own. I’ve heard several times on homeschooling forums and message boards who state that their parents didn’t help them navigate college or career and they came out just fine. And while I do believe that resiliency and grit are often overlooked and possibly under-expected, I caution parents against leaving their kids to figure it out on their own for two compelling reasons.
Time and Money
The average student in American is graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in 6 years instead of 4 with $37,000 in debt. Couple that with the fact that only about half of all students who enter college complete it and you could have a very expensive recipe for disaster.
Hacking High School for Future Success
The savvy homeschooler will view homeschooling high school as the opportunity for two things:
- Time to explore new opportunities and options
- Time to prepare for a successful launch
When I am putting together our “school” for each school year I am thinking about academics. I am also thinking about extra-curricular, camps, internships, sports, clubs and other possibilities. I am thinking about how my kids are developing and growing in unique areas (developing their “otherliness”), how to develop their professionalism in specific areas of interest, what kind of personality skills or traits that they need shoring up on, or natural areas of ability that can be further developed.
(Need more great career advice for your homeschool student? Check out all our other great career readiness posts!)
Why hire someone when you can DIY Homeschool Academic Advising?
So, what does this have to do with Homeschool Academic Advising? Many, if not most, homeschooling parents short change the high school years. They under-credit what they have done, don’t know where to invest time and energy based on students interests or callings because they are worried about what a transcript “should” look like. They tend to forget to think about things like camps, awards, sports, roles, responsibilities, and community service.
That’s where a seasoned Academic Advisor is helpful.
I see the credits you overlook because it’s your normal. For example, I recently worked with a high school student who basically flunked most of last year’s courses. After digging a bit deeper I discovered that he had extensive camping and fishing experience – like he provides fresh fish each year for more than one family; has hundreds of hours of Community Service (mowing and plowing his Grandmas and neighbors driveways and walks) works full time laying fiber optic cable (because he has such an amazing work ethic and is a responsible worker), and has re-built a diesel engine for the truck he bought with cash that he’d earned watching YouTube videos.
Along with identifying a processing disorder and getting him the academic help he needed, I was able to create a transcript for him that reflected the hard working, high PIQ (Performance IQ), kind and generous young man he was. Additionally, we were able to lay out a doable plan that will get him the professional certification he needs in life to earn the kind of money he should, given his abilities, despite academic struggles.
Similarly, I worked with a family earlier this year who has hopes of graduating from college while still in their teens. This student has the intellectual capability of doing just that but he is also very interested in going into an art field, doing creative, free-lance work. His Personalized Learning Plan included CLEP and Dual Enrollment classes. These classes were coupled along with developing an online presence, going to professional conferences, developing his artistic abilities, and going to graduate school in a location that would allow him to create the best connections possible.
Story Telling and the Art of High School & Career Counseling
Here’s the deal. At heart, I’m a writer, a teller of stories. I love listening to people, hearing their hearts and learning about the story they’ve lived so far and the story that God is writing. From there it’s easy to create an Action Plan that makes sense, to resource the students and parents with camps, classes, competitions, books and ideas to make the story they are living be cost and time effective and lead to success.
Whether you have a fast burner or struggling learner- We Can Help!
Whether your student is on a fast track or struggling to just keep going, we can help. We have worked with homeschooled students from around the world for many years- from profoundly gifted to disabled. Along the way, we’ve mentored everyone from Olympic hopefuls to kids who use P.T. for PE credit. We have helped kids go on to Internships, the military, community college, State and Christian colleges as well as Ivy League schools. Every student has a story and we would be honored to work alongside you to help write the next amazing chapter!
Check out our Podcast on Soft Skills, Academic Advising, Orienteering Course.
Many people use the terms work, job, career, and vocation interchangeably. While it’s true that each involves working and a wage, having a career and vocation means more than just a paycheck. They describe a type of work where your passion, purpose, skills, and the marketplace collide. In the words of theologian Frederick Buechner, “Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.”
While some students seem destined for a particular vocation at an early age, it is common for today’s students to near high school graduation without a plan. Parents can encourage informed early-career-direction decisions. It starts with helping teens identify who God made them be, then supporting them as they explore occupations, and finally, helping them to develop goals and create an action plan. By partnering with and encouraging them in this important decision, they can then graduate from high school with a vision for their future.
Help an Undecided Student Build Identity
Nothing is more foundational than being rooted in Christ. Assisting teens in forging strong, positive identities is one way to help them form convictions based on truth, and then stand firm in them regardless of what everyone else does. Google “Who I am in Christ.” Print and review as a family. Emphasize that work is part of God’s plan and that He designed them for a purpose.
Be generous with your praise, affirming skills and natural abilities you have observed.
Ask questions that help identify likes and dislikes and what is important: What kinds of interactions energize you or drain you? Do you like to work with facts and data, or do you prefer people-oriented activities? Do your decisions tend to be objective and logic-based, or are your decisions based on how they may impact others? Do you like to talk out your ideas, or do you prefer time alone to make decisions?
Encourage busy teens to enjoy downtime, which can strengthen their creativity and problem-solving skills. Schedule time to pursue hobbies and to invest in electives, sports, and other team activities that build skills and reveal interests.
Explore Career Options
A better motto than “You can be anything you want to be” is “Be all you can be!”
Researching careers online will help teens better understand occupational profiles that match their interests and personalities. Set a goal for how many careers to research. Information should include primary duties, the education or skills needed for working in that field, work environment, and median wage. Discuss the findings. Check out CareerOneStop.org.
Utilizing a career assessment tool at about the age of 16 may further identify vocations that match God-given interests. Informal assessments are readily available on the web. These are self-interpreted and can lack reliability so are best used to generate discussion. Fee-based or formal assessments are more comprehensive and statistically validated. A trained career counselor can interpret the results to identify best-fit careers and college options. Look for a comprehensive assessment that covers the four components of vocational design: personality, interests, skills and abilities, and values. Check out CareerDirect.org.
Good career planning includes building curiosity and excitement toward participating in the marketplace. Use your networks to make introductions to people in occupations that interest them and match their vocational design. Thinking about a career sector rather than a specific occupation will generate a bigger list of options that match their interests. Encourage them to prepare a list of questions by Googling “informational interview.” Practice interview skills to improve their confidence level.
Take advantage of the flexible schedule of homeschooling. Facilitate opportunities to learn outside of the classroom through part-time work, volunteering, and job shadowing. This will help confirm interests as well as build a resume with skills that employer value.
(Need more great career ideas? Check out our posts on Career Readiness & Career Exploration.)
Set Goals and Take Action
By integrating the gathered information and identifying the education, training, and skills needed for the career sectors, plans and goals can be determined. Don’t worry about choosing one specific occupation at this stage. Goals can be categorized into one of these five pathways: four-year STEM-related college degree; four-year liberal arts college degree; two-year vocational degree or certificate; apprenticeship training, military, or workforce; and gap year or travel.
Teens who have a healthy and productive level of guidance and support from their parents have a much better chance of making good college and career choices. Here are some questions to think about: Which post-secondary institutions offer the programs needed? What is the cost for completion? How will it be funded? Can affordable or free college credits be earned in high school? What are the prerequisites or admission requirements? What courses should be completed during high school? Besides education, what experiences or skills would be valued? Together, you can develop a plan for high school, aligning them to support post-graduation goals.
Many students are more motivated in their studies when they have a defined purpose and have set personal goals. Those who write down their goals are 50% more likely to achieve them. Work to break down their goals into specific, manageable tasks with timelines for completion. Change is constant, so capitalize on preparations for success after high school, no matter what they choose to pursue.
Need help preparing your student for their career path? Check out our Academic Advising Program at True North Homeschool Academy and sign up for our Orienteering Course, offered fall of 2019!
©2019 Cheri Frame
Cheri Frame is a homeschool parent of three graduates, a certified Career Direct® Consultant, and author of Credits Before College: A Comprehensive High School to Graduation Guide. She specializes in advising parents and students on how to earn affordable college credits in high school, choose a career, and graduate college debt free. Cheri and her husband live in suburban Minneapolis.
You’re likely asking what in the world is a cohort and why is it worthy of an article. Let’s begin with the definition. A cohort is defined as, “A group whose members share a significant experience at a certain period of time or have one or more similar characteristics.” I believe cohorts have significantly more value than mere groupings of like individuals. As such, cohorts are a subject worthy of exploration for three reasons:
- First, it’s highly likely you’re going to be self employed at many times in your career. Your ability to thrive independently while simultaneously depending upon others is imminent. The necessity to rely upon your cohort for support and understanding is inevitable and when the going gets tough, you have camaraderie with your cohort members.
- Second, the days of working alongside co-workers in an office are dwindling. Working remotely is very acceptable these days, but it comes with a price. The price is self-discipline, accountability and reliability – all traits common to a healthy cohort.
- Third, organizations are increasingly flat. Minimal are the hierarchical layers of management which instilled command and control in days gone by. You’re expected to be self-organized as a unit of one or twenty-one. Further, because the boss isn’t necessarily looking over your shoulder, it’s incumbent upon each cohort member to push the others to ever higher levels of performance.
Accountability and Growth
At Apprentice University, we have integrated cohorts into nearly every aspect of student engagement. Cohorts are not group or team projects where one student does all the work and the others bask in the rewards (or losses). Unlike team projects, cohorts are a tight-knit unit, stitched together to hold one another accountable with each member being responsible for his or her own work. Further, cohort members learn from another and feed off one another’s strengths and weaknesses.
Created from the counsel of a half-dozen retired military elite, including a retired Delta Force Colonel, a Thunderbirds pilot, and many more, we modeled our cohorts to operate with a similar, high-stakes mindset. On the surface this might seem a bit extreme, but we know that in order to prepare young adults to thrive in tomorrow’s economy, understanding how to leverage a cohort for everyone’s success is critical.
Let’s use a real-world example of a cohort. During my time as the CEO of Bitwise Solutions, I helped create a program for fellow CEOs of like companies – a cohort. For the past half-dozen years, this group has met semi-annually and grown consistently year after year. Some members are better connected and engaged than others and each represents an independent business. We all know that the sharing of best practices, industry trends, hiring strategies and marketing tips benefit one another yet we remain fiercely competitive with each other in the marketplace.
We often find ourselves competing for the same business one day and teaming together to win another piece of business the next. Our competitors are our partners and we make one another stronger. Much like the first bullet point above, we thrive on our own yet we know we are dependent, to some degree, upon one another. This fascinating interdependency between firms scattered across North America closely parallels how cohorts comprised of individuals can thrive in tomorrow’s economy.
Read the entire Tools for Tomorrow series!